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LIFE OF H. K. WHITE.
IT fell to my lot to publish, with the assistance of my friend Mr. Cottle, the first collected edition of the works of Chatterton, in whose history I felt a more than ordinary interest, as being a native of the same city, familiar from my childhood with those great objects of art and nature by which he had been so deeply impressed, and devoted from
childhood with the same ardour to the same pursuits. It is now my fortune to lay before the world some account of one whose early death is not less to be lamented as a loss to English literature, and whose virtues were as admirable as his genius. In the present instance there is nothing to be recorded but what is honourable to himself, and to the age in which he lived; nothing to be regretted, but that one so ripe for heaven should so soon have been removed from the world.
Henry Kirke White, the second son of John and Mary White, was born in Nottingham, March 21st,
1785. His father is a butcher; his mother, whose maiden name was Neville, is of a respectable Staffordshire family.
From the years of three till five, Henry learnt to read at the school of a Mrs. Garrington; whose name, unimportant as it may appear, is mentioned, because she had the good sense to perceive his extraordinary capacity, and spoke of what it promised with confidence. She was an excellent woman, and he describes her with affection in his poem upon Childhood. At a very early age his love of reading was decidedly manifested; it was a passion to which every thing else gave way. “I could fancy,” says his eldest sister, “ I see him in his little chair, with a large book upon his knee, and my mother calling,
Henry, my love, come to dinner;' which was repeated so often without being regarded, that she was obliged to change the tone of her voice before she could rouse him.” When he was about seven, he would creep unperceived into the kitchen, to teach the servant to read and write ; and he continued this for some time before it was discovered that he had been thus laudably employed. He wrote a tale of a Swiss emigrant, which was probably his first composition, and gave it to this servant, being ashamed to show it to his mother. The consciousness of genius is always at first accompanied with this diffidence; it is a sacred solitary feeling. No forward child, however extraordinary the promise of his childhood, ever produced any thing truly great.
When Henry was about six, he was placed under the Rev. John Blanchard, who kept, at that time, the best school in Nottingham. Here he learnt writing, arithmetic, and French. When he was about eleven, he oue day wrote a separate theme for every boy in his class, which consisted of about twelve or fourteen, The master said he had never known them write so well upon any subject before, and could not refrain from expressing his astonishment at the excellence of Henry's. It was considered as a great thing for him to be at so good a school, yet there were some circumstances which rendered it less advantageous to him than it might have been. Mrs. White had not yet overcome her husband's intention of breeding bim up to bis own business: and by an arrangement which took up too much of his time, and would have crushed his spirit, if that “ mounting spirit" could have been crushed, one whole day in the week, and his leisure bours on the others were employed in carry ing the butcher's basket. Some differences at length arose between his father and Mr. Blanchard, in consequence of which Henry was removed.
One of the ushers, when he came to receive the money due for tuition, took the opportunity of informing Mrs. White what an incorrigible son she had, and that it was impossible to make the lad do any thing. This information made his friends very uneasy; they were dispirited about him, and had they relied wholly upon this report, the stupidity or malice of this man would have blasted Henry's progress for ever. He was, however, placed